Salt for Baking

Discussion in 'Pastries & Baking' started by missyjean, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. missyjean

    missyjean

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    My recipe calls for fine sea salt.  Can anyone recommend which brand is best for baking? 

    Thank you,

    missy
     
  2. siduri

    siduri

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    For baking (that is, inside a cake batter or cookie batter) it makes no difference at all in my opinion.  Are they talking about surface salt on something like a pretzel or focaccia?  Then you may (may) be able to taste the difference - Otherwise i;d write it off to snobbery and just use your normal table salt. 
     
  3. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Although you're probably right about snobbery, Siduri, it actually could make a difference.

    Her recipe is probably written in volume amounts. When means shifting to a large-grain salt could actually make it less salty tasting.

    The reality is, however, that in baked goods it rarely makes any sort of difference.
     
  4. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Salt, once it dissolves into solution, is salt.   All salt, originally came from the sea. 

    Sea salt and kosher salt are just plain salt.  Sea salt is harvested in the form of large crystals and crushed to whatever size -- or not.  Most kosher salt crystals are grown to the desired size.  The size and shape of the crystals do make a difference in terms of taste when eaten whole and dry, sometimes a huge difference.  But when dissolved into liquid or or dough no. 

    Kosher salt is not kosher because it's holy or blessed.  It's kosher because it sticks to damp surfaces while not dissolving easily -- valuable qualties for kosher butchers.  They are also valuable qualities for bakers who want to cook with salt crystals on top, just like Siduri said.  Some bakers (me for instance) like even bigger crystals for the purpose.

    Some of the fancy salts, like Hawaiian Black, Celtic Gray, etc., bring a little something to the table in the form of a tiny bit of the dirt from which they were harvested.

    If a recipe is measurement critical, you might have to do some adjustment when substituting ordinary table salt for a ridiculously expensive alternative.  But only if the measurements are by volume and not by weight.  Weight for weight, salt is salt.  I doubt there's enough difference in crystal size and shape between "fine" sea salt and ordinary table salt to make a difference.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
  5. missyjean

    missyjean

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    Whew! That is good to know. I can't believe the prices of salt out there, especially Fleur de Sel

    I was reading Michael Symon's book and he advises to stay away from Iodized salt because of the taste

    I believe he is talking about cooking...does that apply to baking as well?
     
  6. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    I might be able to taste the difference between iodized and non-iodized in food if comparing two very heavily salted items at the same time.  Maybe.  Probably not. 

    For most cooking we use iodized, but use non-iodized, table salt for long brines and marinades.  Because after a while, stuff soaked in salt solutions made with iodized salt can look a little purple. 

    If you don't eat fish, iodized salt is a good way to get some dietary iodine.  Even though it will be tough to choose outfits which compliment a purple complexion /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif, it's better than a goiter.  If you already get enough, you might as well buy non-iodized.   

    Sometimes you want to examine famous chefs' quality recommendations in terms of whether you ever got a great meal in a cheap dive.  We know from the man himself that Symon loves street food, so take his recommendation with... well... with a grain of salt.

    BDL
     
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2010
  7. missyjean

    missyjean

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    /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif   I will do that. Thank you
     
  8. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    You volume measurements actually make a difference?

    In a fit of nothing better to do, I just weighed different salts. Here's what I came up with:

    Fine sea salt: 2 teaspoons = 10 grams

    Table salt:     1 1/2 tsp-10g

    Course Gray: 3 tsp-10g

    Kosher:         4 1/2 tsp-10g

    Based on this---admittededly limited---test, I would say that in terms of taste there is no practical difference between fine sea salt and table salt. But once you get into the larger, "lighter," crystals, there is a very real difference. It would, for instance, take more than twice as much Kosher salt to achieve the same saltiness as fine sea salt. I was, frankly, surprised to see that table salt is actually "heavier" than fine sea salt.

    This applies, obviously, to cooking applications. When used as finishing salts, taste receptors come into play in a different way.

    But, to show how it can make a difference. I use a tablespoon (i.e., 15 grams) of fine sea salt in bread. That gives me the degree of saltiness I prefer. A tablespoon of table salt, however, would be 5 grams more, and, possibly, make it too salty for my taste.
     
  9. missyjean

    missyjean

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    Does that mean the salt you use to bake does make a difference? If the recipe calls for 1 tsp fine sea salt, the batter would be slightly more salty then it would be if I substituted 1 tsp table salt?

    Does the texture of the salt effect the crumb?

    Do you agree with Michael Symon who suggests finishing with fleur de sel?
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2010
  10. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    If you're talking about baking, I don't think subbing table salt for sea salt will make a wit of difference. You're talking about a very small amount spread across a loaf of bread. But, if you want to pick nits, you're reading it backwards. Based on volume, table salt is saltier than sea salt.

    Just as an aside, if you're talking about a yeast bread, 1 teaspoon of any salt is on the low side anyway. I doubt you'd actually taste the salt at all. Bread recipes typically call for two teaspoons, and I, personally, prefer a tablespoon. But, as noted elsewhere, like James Beard I like a salty bread.

    The texture of the crumb should not be affected by the kind of salt used. Once in solution, salt is salt. If at all, texture is more likely affected by when you add the salt, rather than by how much.

    As to fleur de sell. First off, where does Michael Symon say that?  Virtually every recipe in his book specifies kosher salt. I'm am not a trend-rider per se, so the whole fleur de sel thing leaves me cold. I neither agree nor disagree with Symon. If you like the result, then it's right for you. But I also know how fleur de sel is harvested, and disbelieve that most of what's being sold as such is the true gelt.

    Generally speaking, you shouldn't be blindly following the unsupported claims of any celebrity chef. They are just as subject to the whims of fashion as are the rest of us. You say Symon specifies fleur de sel. OK. Turn to Batali and it's "Maldon or other flaky salt." Michael Chiarello insists that gray salt is the only thing you should use. Etc.

    Which of them, do you think, has the one true word of God?

    For breads that benefit from salt as a finishing touch---i.e., pretzels, some bagels, a very few artisan loafs, etc.---I'm more than satisfied with Kosher salt. For savory dishes, from what I've seen, finishing salt is an affectation in most cases, and not a necessary part of the dish. So, here, again, if it suits your idea of what makes a complete dish, then use it. Me, I'll mostly put my food dollars elsewhere.
     
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2010
  11. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    Dear MissyJean,

    You wrote,
    At the risk of merely repeating KY...

    Usng the term batter and crumb together suggests a cake or quick bread.  But the same is true for a normal bread made with dough.  Odds are extremely high that there's not enough salt in the recipe for the slight difference in saltiness (by volume -- because salt weight exactly tracks the taste of salt itself) to make a difference any discernible difference in taste.

    It just doesn't matter.   It just doesn't matterIt just doesn't matter.  By this time a theme should be emerging. 

    Fleur de sel is one of many excellent sea salts.  Any excellent finishing salt will be (wait for it) an excellent finishing salt.  They certainly are different from one another, but it's unlikely there is any single best choice for a particular application.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  12. missyjean

    missyjean

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    I have no doubt I was reading it wrong /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif  Thanks for explaining it to me.

    Michael Symon mentions using fleur de sel as a finishing salt in his book where he discusses salt. As for my taste, I don't think I am knowledgeable enough to discern the difference and that is why I ask you guys, here.

    My interest in salt in baking only concerns cake and pastry. I haven't gotten to breads yet.

    In particular, Cory Schreiber's "Rustic Desserts" and Dorrie Greenspan's, "Baking: From My Home To Yours" calls for fine sea salt.

    I was wondering which brand to buy?
     
  13. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    MissyJean, I'm not familiar with either of those books. But I am familiar with the insy idea that sea salt is, somehow or other, better than table salt.

    In a word: Nonsense. If you want to use it, fine (disclaimer: I use fine sea salt as my everyday salt). But don't think that you have to. Let me quote that famous wit and man about town BDL: "It just doesn't matter.   It just doesn't matterIt just doesn't matter." 

    That said, if you decide that you want to use it, don't buy by brand. They're all the same. This is a time when buying by price makes the most sense.
     
  14. boar_d_laze

    boar_d_laze

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    You have been eating baked goods made with ordinary table salt your entire life.  Just because "better salt" has become something of an article of faith among the baking community, doesn't make it true.  In essence, your experts are telling you that a car with wax rubbed left to right will go faster than a car with wax rubbed right to left.  They're sincere, but it doesn't exactly cover them with glory.

    When dissolved into solution -- which is what happens in baking -- salt is salt; a given weight of dissolved sea salt will taste exactly the same as a the same weight of mined salt.  Salt dissolves at a rate determined by the size and shape of the crystals, there isn't enough difference between ordinary (mined) table salt and fine sea salt to make a meaningful difference in that respect.   

    Which kind of fine sea salt should you buy?  The least expensive and the least trouble.  Don't go out of your way to buy one instead of another, nor should you spend an extra dime.  Morton is fine, Hain is fine.  Whatever. 

    For a well stocked pantry, you don't need both fine sea salt and un-iodized table salt.  They're interchangeable.  You'll still need kosher salt and at least one finishing salt.

    Hope this helps,

    BDL
     
  15. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Why does she need a finishing salt, BDL? I mean, there are times when one might be desireable. But they're never actually necessary.

    I would agree, however, that both table/fine sea salt & kosher salt should be part of every well stocked pantry.
     
  16. chefedb

    chefedb

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    BDL  I agree with everything you stated . Only thing I would add would be on Kosher Salt. In order to be certified Kosher it has to come  from a kosher source (meaning packer). It is usually certified by a rabbi and the OU(union of Orthodox rabbis)
     
  17. missyjean

    missyjean

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    In Michale Symon's book, he mentions using a finishing salt for crunch.  I went to the store to get it and found a small jar  of fleur de sel to be about $12.

    Here is one of his published recipes:

    http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/rec...as-and-pancetta-with-salmon-recipe/index.html
     
  18. missyjean

    missyjean

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    Yes, it is a big help. Thank you.  I am going to replace my iodized salt with fine sea salt and use it for everything except when kosher salt is indicated.

    I do have a box of kosher salt.  I use it for seasoning meat approx a half hour before cooking. I also use it for cleaning my cast iron skillet (it works very well).
     
  19. missyjean

    missyjean

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    I use Diamond Crystal.  My grandma used that when she was alive.  When she sprinkled it on the meat, still lying in the brown paper from the butcher, she called it "koshering"
     
  20. siduri

    siduri

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    This might be true if you're cooking Kosher, but for those who are using it for its culinary properties does it make any difference? 

    In any case, i can't find anything here called anything like Kosher salt which would be "sale Kasher" - nor have i ever seen salt with a diamond crystal shape.  I never noticed any problems with my food for the lack of it. 

    Here you can get "sale grosso" (like big crystals, but they're hard crystals, and used for mortar and pestle work, the salt physically breaks down the garlic,basil, etc) and "sale fino" (fine salt - for salting food).  They do now sell all kinds of fancy salts for salt grinders - black, orange, grey... I tried some of the grey stuff and didn't particularly like it.  But i did buy a normal, commercial box of salt from Trapani, and I do notice the difference on my salads or for shaking on food at the table.  I;ve used it in baking (because it was all i had sometimes) and THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE.that I can taste.  And I DO taste the difference on food, and tasting it from the hand.